Apple, Google And Amazon Support Microsoft With US Government Gag Order Fight

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Tech and media compaines throw Microsoft their support of a gagging lawsuit fight with the US government

Microsoft has gained the support of major technology and media firms as it continues its data privacy fight against the US government.

The Redmond company has long campaigned against the US government over data privacy issues, and been a consistent supporter of stronger cloud laws to protect user data from government snooping.

Microsoft Lawsuit

Back in April Microsoft sued the United States government for the right to tell its customers when a federal agency may be snooping on their emails and other data stored on cloud servers.

It argued that authorities were breaking the US Constitution by stopping Microsoft from warning customers about government data requests.

Microsoft currently alleges the government violates the Fourth Amendment, which establishes the right for people and businesses to know if the government searches or seizes their property, in addition to Microsoft’s First Amendment right to free speech.

AirbusMicrosoft has previously told TechweekEurope that it recognises the need for trust from its customers, and said it wants to be as transparent as possible about where their data is stored, how it is transmitted, and who is trying to access it.

The Justice Department meanwhile believes that that Microsoft has no legal standing to bring the case. It uses the authority of the 30-year-old Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) as the basis for its investigations of suspects who store data in the cloud.

But Microsoft’s fight has gained the support from some notable technology firms, as well as privacy campaigners, media organisations, and even pharmaceutical companies.

According to Reuters, Microsoft’s backers included the US Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, Delta Air Lines, BP America, the Washington Post, Fox News, the National Newspaper Association, Apple, Alphabet’s Google,, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and many others.

It is understood the above firms had filed friend-of-the-court briefs by non-participants in the case, and five former law enforcement officials who worked for the FBI or Justice Department also submitted a brief supporting Microsoft.

Privacy Champion

Microsoft has fought the US government of a number of occasions to try and protect customer privacy.

For example, back in July it won a landmark legal case when a court ruled that the United States government could not force Microsoft to hand over emails and communications stored in servers outside of the US.

The situation was sparked when the US government had tried to force Microsoft to hand over emails that were stored on its servers located in Ireland.

At the time, Microsoft’s battle gained widespread support from both media organisations such as Fox News, The Guardian, Forbes, CNN, and the Washington Post, as well as its fellow tech rivals such as Apple, Amazon, Salesforce and eBay.

Microsoft also launched a transparency website last year called the Microsoft Transparency Hub to detail government data requests, which added to the strain in Redmond’s relationship with the US federal government.

Microsoft has also refused to hand over customer data concerning a Skype user to a court in Belgium.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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